After several attempts to get the ProPublica and NPR reporters working the work comp beat to see both sides of a very complex “system”, better understand the drivers and dynamics, and correct their errors publicly, I’m giving up.
Clearly, they don’t want to hear anything that doesn’t agree with their superficial and clearly biased view of the work comp system, are quite willing to distort and misuse industry data to support their position, and have an agenda they are determined to promote, damn the facts.
The latest screed from PP continues what is by no measure “reporting”, but rather a bald-faced advocacy effort using anecdotes in an attempt to indict an entire system, to simplistically and cynically post pictures of terribly injured workers to get readers to blame the awful insurance companies, to distort and misuse data to promote their ideological position.
I’m going to elaborate on their misuse of NCCI and NAIC data to tout the high financial “returns” of the work comp system next week; for now I’ll focus on the employer direction issue.
In the original Demolition article, reporter Michael Grabell said:
In 37 states, workers can’t pick their own doctor or are restricted to a list provided by their employers. [italics added for emphasis]
That is categorically false. I sent a detailed explanation of why and where this is false, provided the background documents from WCRI, and followed up.
Did he correct the original article? No.
Did he update it and note the mistake? No.
Did he admit his initial statement was wrong, even in a private message? No.
However, in his latest polemic, he states:
37 states now restrict injured workers’ ability to choose their own doctors. Green states [citing a graphic] allow employers and insurers to choose workers’ doctors, at least initially. Blue states restrict workers to doctors approved by their employer, state, or insurer [italics added for emphasis] or to those in their employers’ managed care plans.
This isn’t a minor oversight or wordsmithing; Grabell’s reporting has been an attempt to show how the work comp system is slanted in favor of employers, and his mischaracterization of WCRI reports clearly is intended to support his position.
There’s something more insidious here. Grabell is attempting to show that somehow workers choosing their doctors is better, that those awful employers and insurers are just out to screw the worker.
In the vast majority of cases, that’s utter bullshit. (sorry, no other way to describe it). And if Grabell had actually wanted to get the story right, and not just promote his ideological position, he would have talked with employers who are doing everything they can to identify the best docs and get their injured workers to those docs.
In emails and conversations I pointed out to Grabell that the reason employers want control is to prevent injured workers from being harmed by profit-seeking physicians, and suggested he look into physician dispensing of opioids, especially in Florida; the Drobot case where hundreds of workers reportedly received horrible care; and other examples (Illinois prison guards) where profiteering physicians have gamed the system, harmed workers, and cost employers and taxpayers millions.
And I heard…crickets.
What does this mean for you?
This isn’t reporting, it is advocacy.